Millions worldwide still in slavery

Thursday, May 12, 2005

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The International Labour Organization (ILO) released a major report Wednesday, finding that currently more than 12.3 million people are enslaved worldwide. An estimated 2.4 million of them are victims of slave trafficking, and their combined labor generates profits of over 32 billion dollars annually.

Forced labor is “a social evil which has no place in the modern world,” said ILO Director-General Juan SomavĂ­a. “Forced labor represents the underside of globalization and denies people their basic rights and dignity… to achieve a fair globalization and decent work for all, it is imperative to eradicate forced labour,” added Somavia.

The new study confirms that slavery remains a major global problem to this day. The report breaks down slaves by continent:

  • 9.5 million forced laborers are in Asia, which is the region with the highest number
  • 1.3 million in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 660,000 in sub-Saharan Africa
  • 260,000 in the Middle East and North Africa
  • 360,000 in industrialized countries
  • 210,000 in transition countries.

The study also reveals that slavery is present in all regions and in all types of economies.

Forced economic exploitation is more or less evenly divided between men and women, however forced commercial sexual exploitation involves almost entirely women and girls. In addition, children bear a heavy burden, comprising between 40 to 50 percent of all slaves.

There are at least two victims of forced labor for every 1,000 people worldwide.

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